Bessie Head: A Woman Alone (1978).
Comment: I have been reading Bessie Head in the quiet moments this week and I am deeply moved by her ability to capture the struggle to write inside and outside of race/racism.
A few years ago I was struggling to write an academic article on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission when I came across a newly published book by an American author on the subject.
I was struck by the authoritative and confidant manner of the author. It seemed she was able to dispense with a torrid history to draw relevant dates, outcomes, etc.
I could not set aside the pain, its burn, and found myself mortified by my inability to write my own story, my own history.
A few months into the failed project I looked at my friend and mentor Art Neal and said "I am too close to write what is so important to me. I have failed me and mine."
He understood. The trauma and its consequences are not easy to set aside when the journey to come to terms, let alone heal, still pierces so deeply.
This thinking, this theme of struggle and resistance, is perhaps the most striking aspect of the brave writings of Bessie Head.
May she rest in peace.